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Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 17:06 GMT
Shops weigh up changes

Out with the old, as scales need to be updated
The UK finally says goodbye to pounds and ounces at the weekend, as new rules for measurements come into force.

Old-style imperial measurements will be banned from shops from 1 January 2000, and retailers are being warned they could face fines up to 2,000 if they do not comply.

Measure for measure
The metric system was created after the French Revolution in 1789
The UK began going metric in 1965
Sterling decimalised in 1971
From October 1985, pre-packed goods were sold in metric packs
All loose goods must be sold in metric measures from 1 January 2000
Since October 1995, all goods sold pre-packaged have had to be labelled in the metric system of grams and kilograms.

From Sunday, the same rule will apply to loose goods - meaning it will no longer be legal to sell potatoes by the pound, or sweets by the quarter.

The Trading Standards Institute is urging shopkeepers to convert their weighing scales to metric measurements immediately.

"They have to comply with the law and the maximum penalty for failure to do so is a 2,000 fine," said Allan Charlesworth, chief executive of the institute.

Retailers will be able to get advice from trading standards officers but if they persist with the traditional units they could face prosecution.


A 0.1134-kilogrammer, with cheese.
Some exemptions still remain. Drinkers will not have to nip out for a quick 0.5683 litre - beer can still be sold in pints.

There are no plans to change road signs or car speedometers from miles per hour to kilometres per hour.

The plan, to make the UK fall in line with cross-European regulations, is not expected to be universally popular.

A poll earlier this year, commissioned by the British Weights and Measures Association (BWMA), revealed most people were opposed to the change.

The survey, carried out by an independent polling company, found 72% of youngsters and adults in the UK wanted to keep imperial measures.

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